The Prince William Board of County Supervisors is expected to appoint three new members to the Prince William-Manassas jail board today, an action that could eventually spell the end of the county’s 287(g) agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The 11-member jail board must decide before July 1 whether it will renew the county’s ICE agreement or let it expire. Sheriff Glen Hill (R), who is the chairman of the jail board, is a supporter of the agreement and first signed it in 2008.
The agreement allows ICE to deputize some of the jail officers as ICE agents, giving them access to federal databases and allowing them to facilitate immigration detainers to hold inmates for up to 48 hours past their release date if ICE requests to take them into custody.
Prince William and Culpeper counties are the only localities in Virginia that currently hold 287(g) agreements with ICE. The Prince William-Manassas Adult Detention Center has transferred more than 6,500 inmates to ICE custody since 2011 as a result of the agreement, according to jail officials.
Hill has long been a supporter of the county’s 287(g) agreement. Hill said during his re-election campaign last year that the agreement is another “tool in the toolbox” that local law enforcement can use to keep county residents safe.
Democrats on the board of supervisors, who hold a 5-3 majority, campaigned on ending the 287(g) agreement during the 2019 election cycle. County Board Chair Ann Wheeler, D-At Large, said after the election the board would “have a comprehensive review of our immigration policy across the county.”
“I want to make sure we don’t spend local dollars on a federal responsibility,” Wheeler said.
However, because the supervisors don’t have a direct say in whether the county renews the ICE agreement or ends it, the board's Democratic supervisors will likely look to their jail board appointees to do it for them.
The board can appoint three citizen members to the jail board to serve alongside Hill. Also serving on the jail board are two elected officials: Commonwealth’s Attorney Amy Ashworth (D) and Clerk of the Circuit Court Jacqueline Smith (D); as well as three county staffers: County Executive Chris Martino, Director of Office of Criminal Justice Services Steven Austin and Police Chief Barry Barnard; and two citizen members appointed by the Manassas City Council.
Some of the potential appointees up for consideration on Tuesday are well known immigration rights advocates, including Del. Elizabeth Guzman, D-31st, the first Latina to serve in the Virginia General Assembly, and Lisa Johnson-Firth, an immigration attorney.
Rev. Cozy Bailey, the chair of the Prince William NAACP and an appointee to Gov. Ralph Northam’s African American Advisory board, is also on the list of appointees.
Not included on the list is Supervisor Yesli Vega's suggested appointee: John Zadrozny. At the time Vega, R-Coles, put forth Zadrozny's name in January, the Bristow resident was acting chief of staff of U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services under its acting Director Ken Cuccinelli. Cuccinelli, a former Republican Virginia attorney general, is known for his hardline approach to immigration policy.
Monica Sarmiento, executive director of the Virginia Coalition for Immigrants Rights, said Monday the organization will endorse Guzman, Johnson-Firth and Bailey to serve on the Prince William-Manassas jail board. The coalition counts the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, Legal Aid Justice Center, VACALAO and the ACLU of Virginia as members.
Sarmiento said the coalition is planning to have speakers sign up in support of ending the county’s 287(g) agreement at Tuesday’s meeting.
County residents in favor of keeping the 287(g) agreement are planning an opposing rally “in support of Sheriff Hill’s efforts,” at 1 p.m. on Tuesday at the McCoart building, prior to the 2 p.m. board meeting. A flyer created for the rally is asking that those who support the agreement sign up to speak at the meeting as well.
The nine jail board appointees that will be considered at Tuesday’s meeting are:
- Rev. Cozy Bailey
- Del. Elizabeth Guzman, D-31st
- Lisa Johnson-Firth
- Tracey Lenox
- Richard Mattox
- Richard Marianos
- Zalouteacha Jackson
- Austin Haynes
- Timmy Parrish, Jr.